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France’s ex-president Sarkozy loses appeal over corruption conviction

His three-year prison term was confirmed on Wednesday. But lawyers said they would again appeal the decision

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France’s ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy has lost his appeal to overturn his jail term for corruption and influence peddling.

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday (May 17) reconfirmed his conviction in 2021.

It ordered Sarkozy - president of France from 2007 to 2012 - to serve three years in prison, including one in a closed jail.

The ex-president’s former lawyer Thierry Herzog and former high magistrate Gilbert Azibert have been handed the same sentence. Mr Herzog has been banned from practising his profession for three years.

Sarkozy’s sentence goes further than prosecutors had requested. They had demanded a three-year jail term but suspended, meaning he would be under house arrest. 

The president of the Court of Appeal, Sophie Clément, said: “Mr Herzog and Sarkozy are lawyers, and Mr Azibert is a specialist in penal procedure. There is no way any of them can claim not to know that they were breaking the law.”

Sarkozy, 68, is the first ex-president of France to be handed a custodial prison sentence.

Pending appeal

Lawyers for Mr Sarkozy, including Jacqueline Laffont, have already announced their plans to appeal the decision to France’s Court of Cassation 

This means the sentence will not begin until this new appeal has been examined. This generally takes around a year. Mr Sarkozy will not be deprived of his civic rights nor required to wear an electronic tag during this time.

Ms Laffont said: “Nicolas Sarkozy is innocent of the facts he is accused of. We will go to the end of the legal road.”

Illegal corruption

The case centres on suspected corruption and financing by Libya of Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.

Wiretapped telephone conversations between Sarkozy and his former lawyer formed the basis of the prosecution’s case. They convinced the court that the conversations revealed a corruption pact with Mr Azibert. 

Mr Azibert, the then-attorney general at the Court of Cassation, is accused of having worked behind the scenes to influence an appeal by Mr  Sarkozy in exchange for a ‘helping hand’ for an honorary post in Monaco.

Related articles

Sarkozy: What other legal cases await the former president?

France's corruption problem: Why Sarkozy trial is just the beginning

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